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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich
    Christie's, New York, Contemporary Art, 17 May, 2001, Lot 326
    Christie's, New York, Beyond: Selections from The Pierre Huber Collection, 26 February, 2007, Lot 36

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Jeu de Paume, Cindy Sherman, 16 May-3 September 2006, then traveled to Bregenz, Kunsthaus Bregenz (25 November 2006-14 January 2007), Humblebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (9 February-13 May 2007), Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau (15 June-10 September 2007), another example exhibited
    New York, Museum of Modern Art, Cindy Sherman, 26 February-11 June 2012, then traveled to San Francisco, SFMOMA (14 July-7 October 2012), Minneapolis, Walker Art Center (10 November 2012 -17 February 2013), Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art (17 March- 9 June 2013), Sao Paolo, Pinacotea do Estado de Sao Paolo (20 July-13 October 2013)

  • Literature

    Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2006, n.p and 258 (illustrated)
    Cindy Sherman, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2012, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Although well known for appearing in her own photographs, Cindy Sherman has little interest in conventional self-portraiture. In series like Untitled Film Stills and Fairy Tales and Disasters, she is a protean figure; costumes, masks and make-up allow her to slip from one character to the next. As she puts it, ‘I’m not about revealing myself.’ (Cindy Sherman, Simon Hattenstone, ‘Cindy Sherman: Me, myself and I,' The Guardian, 15 January 2011). In a process of continual transformation, she seizes the imagery of collective experience, inhabiting personae from the clown to the Golden Age movie star.

    In 1992, Cindy Sherman created a series of photographs entitled Sex Pictures from which she was notably absent. Making extensive use of prosthetic body parts purchased from medical catalogues, she photographed a series of graphic tableaux. Lurid assemblages of plastic forms, the subjects’ artificiality is largely beyond doubt, save for one particular exception. As Cindy Sherman recounts, ‘there was one image in the show that a lot of people thought was me ... The mannequin that wears the crown — they swore it had my eyes. Everybody thought that I had placed my head behind the mask. I guess it's because I used a different mannequin head for that — one that had painted-in eyes. Maybe because it was so different from all the others, some people thought that I just had to put myself in there somewhere.’ (Cindy Sherman in conversation with Therese Lichtenstein, Journal of Contemporary Art).

    The photograph in question is the present lot. The scene is one of surreal sexuality; using an array of anatomical models, Sherman pieces together a reclining figure, baring breasts and genitalia. Framed by a coiffed wig and decorated by a crown, a fetish mask covers much of the face. But it is the eyes that are most arresting; painted onto the mannequin, they are imbued with unusual vitality. Their gaze is penetrating, and their intensity unnerving. Yet, while they intimate a human presence, the rest of the body is plainly synthetic; joints are visible in the legs, and the overall arrangement disjunctive. In these respects, the work resonates with the series as a whole. Sherman’s approach to her sordid compositions was one of critical distance; as she relates, ‘I am always surprised when I read or hear somebody say that they are X-rated or pornographic because they are all obvious plastic parts’ (Cindy Sherman in conversation with Therese Lichtenstein, Journal of Contemporary Art). She reexamines figurations of sexuality, using artificial forms to deconstruct and to subvert.

    Sherman explores setting as she explores the human figure, carefully considering both space and quality of light. In Untitled #264, she creates an ambiance of seedy opulence. A brooding gloom suffuses much of the photograph: swathes of shadow hang heavy in the folds of cloth which are draped about the space. However the darkness of the scene is not without interruption; a beam of light cuts diagonally across the figure, and a pair of disembodied breasts glistens in the right hand corner. The room is a space of artificial quietude: a phantasmagorical lair separated from the heat of the day. It draws heavily on aesthetics of sleaze, on the garish spaces imagined within the pages of top-shelf-magazines. But there are rather loftier influences at play too. In its masterful control of light and shadow, the work recalls practices from realist painting, not least the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio. The photograph is as dense with potential signification as it is with colour. Bodying forth a strange and unsettling underworld, it takes a searching and critical look at the lurid sexuality of the modern image.

  • Artist Biography

    Cindy Sherman

    American • 1954

    Seminal to the Pictures Generation as well as contemporary photography and performance art, Cindy Sherman is a powerhouse art practitioner.  Wily and beguiling, Sherman's signature mode of art making involves transforming herself into a litany of characters, historical and fictional, that cross the lines of gender and culture. She startled contemporary art when, in 1977, she published a series of untitled film stills.

    Through mise-en-scène​ and movie-like make-up and costume, Sherman treats each photograph as a portrait, though never one of herself. She embodies her characters even if only for the image itself. Presenting subversion through mimicry, against tableaus of mass media and image-based messages of pop culture, Sherman takes on both art history and the art world.

    Though a shape-shifter, Sherman has become an art world celebrity in her own right. The subject of solo retrospectives across the world, including a blockbuster showing at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a frequent exhibitor at the Venice Biennale among other biennials, Sherman holds an inextricable place in contemporary art history.

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Untitled #264

chromogenic print, in artist's frame
sheet 127 x 190.5 cm (50 x 75 in.)
framed 130.2 x 193.7 cm (51 1/4 x 76 1/4 in.)

Signed, numbered and dated 'Cindy Sherman 1/6 1992' on the backboard. This work is number 1 from an edition of 6.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £218,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 29 June 2015 7pm